Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are part of the same company, but they have different styles and appeal to different kinds of travelers. They both have plenty of food and entertainment options on board.
Royal Caribbean has over 20 ships that are very big and have lots of innovative and fun features for families. Celebrity has 13 ships that are smaller and more elegant and cater to adults.
To help you decide which cruise line is best for you, we will compare Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises on their onboard experience, itineraries and passenger profile.
Size of Ship:
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises are sister cruise lines run by the same company, but they have different styles and attract different kinds of cruise travelers. They both have lots of food and entertainment choices on board.
Royal Caribbean has over 20 ships that are very big and have lots of new and fun features for families. Celebrity has 13 ships that are smaller and more elegant and cater to adults.
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To help you decide which cruise line is best for you, we will compare Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises on their onboard experience, itineraries, and passenger profile.
Ship size The Royal Caribbean ship Wonder of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN The Royal Caribbean ship Wonder of the Seas. ROYAL CARIBBEAN © The Points Guy Both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity have different classes of ships, but most of them are large. The older ships in both fleets are smaller than the newer ones, but they are still not cozy or small.
Royal Caribbean’s older ships have 2,000 to 3,900 guests, and its newest ones have more than 5,000, making it a leader in the mega-ship trend.
Its fleet has five of the world’s biggest ships, with Wonder of the Seas at the top. This Oasis-class ship and its four brothers are so huge they have up to 5,700 guests at double occupancy and are split into themed areas to help guests get around.
Royal Caribbean’s modern Quantum-class ships have 4,180 guests and stand out because of their North Star viewing pod, which goes up 300 feet above the sea.
Icon of the Seas, a new class for Royal Caribbean, will be the line’s biggest ship when it launches in early 202411. It will only have 5,600 passengers at double occupancy because the ship will have more cabins and suites that fit four or more passengers than any other Royal Caribbean ship.
Celebrity Cruises’ newest and biggest ships are its 3,260-guest Edge series: Celebrity Edge, Apex and Beyond, with Ascent launching in December 2023. Its six Solstice-class ships have 2,800 passengers, and its four Millennium-class ships have almost 2,200.
Celebrity also has small-ship cruising on three 16- to 100-passenger ships in the Galapagos Islands (but we won’t talk about them in this article).
Both cruise lines have all the features of a floating resort at sea: pools, spas, bars and many dining venues. But Royal Caribbean’s Oasis- and Quantum-class ships have more wow factor with their activities and attractions for family cruising.
On the other hand, Celebrity’s ships are roomy and designed to impress with modern design and premium features.
On both lines, the smallest, oldest ships can feel different from the newest, biggest ones, so remember that when you’re looking for trips.
Who is on board?
Royal Caribbean has a lot of different kinds of people on board, mostly Americans and many families. It’s also a good choice for friends having parties or celebrations and couples of all ages looking for a fun ship with a good price.
But some people who stay in the Royal Suite Class are richer, so there’s a more fancy group, often with their families. The people also change by where the ship goes, with shorter trips to the Bahamas and Caribbean having more families and friends. The longer trips to the Mediterranean have more couples and older people and fewer families. Alaska trips have families with different generations and older cruisers.
Celebrity’s ships have a more specific and more upscale group of people, mostly Gen Xers in their 40s and 50s and Baby Boomers who are retired, with some Millennials without kids, too.
There will be some kids on board, but not as many as Royal Caribbean has. Celebrity is a more expensive cruise brand, especially on its Edge-series ships, but it’s not as pricey as luxury cruise ships.
Cabins and suites
Royal Caribbean has a lot of different cabin and suite choices, especially on its newest and biggest ships. Celebrity has fewer cabin categories but has non-suite rooms that have extra benefits.
Both cruise lines have different cabin styles and prices. You can find inside cabins without windows, ocean-view rooms with windows or holes, rooms with private balconies and different suites. There are also rooms that connect for families and groups, and cabins that are accessible for passengers who need wheelchairs or other devices.
It makes sense that Royal Caribbean’s big Oasis- and Quantum-class ships have the most types of rooms in the fleet — up to three dozen cabin and suite categories for both families and couples with different budgets.
On the cheaper end, some of the inside cabins without windows have a “virtual balcony,” a screen that looks like a window and shows live video of the view outside. These are on all five Quantum-class ships, plus Wonder of the Seas, Symphony of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Navigator of the Seas, Explorer of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas.
Oasis-class ships also have inside and balcony cabins that look over the Promenade, Boardwalk and Central Park areas.
Six ships (Brilliance of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas) have a few studio cabins for solo travelers.
The cruise line’s best rooms are suites, different in size and some with loft layouts. Its most fancy rooms are the two-story Ultimate Family Suites (on Wonder, Symphony and Spectrum of the Seas). They fit up to eight guests and have kid-friendly features, like a slide, air hockey table and other games.
All suites have exclusive benefits. But Royal Caribbean’s biggest, most expensive suites have exclusive perks, like Royal Genie butler service and free specialty dining and drink packages.
Celebrity’s newest Edge-class ships change the normal balcony cabin with Infinite Veranda Staterooms, where a window from the floor to the ceiling goes down halfway to make an open-air veranda in the room. This design makes more space in the cabin, no matter if the window is open or closed.
AquaClass spa cabins have wellness benefits in the cabin and access to a special restaurant and the spa’s thermal suite (with saunas and heated loungers). Concierge-class rooms have a concierge, a pillow menu and a special welcome lunch in the dining room with free wine.
Solstice-class ships have single inside cabins, while Edge-series ships have some Infinite Veranda staterooms for solo travelers.
Suite styles and design change by ship class. On Edge-series ships, seven suite categories include the two-story Edge Villas and the Iconic Suite, the biggest in the fleet at 1,892 square feet (plus a 689-square-foot terrace). Solstice-class ships have six suite categories, and Millennium-class ships have five.
All suites have attendants and a concierge, as well as included perks: a premium drinks package, premium Wi-Fi, prepaid tips and an onboard credit. Celebrity’s suite guests can also use exclusive benefits as part of The Retreat, like a private sundeck, lounge and restaurant.
The upside: Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships offer a dozen or more onboard dining venues, so there are culinary options to suit every palate.
The downside: Both cruise lines have only a few free restaurants — a buffet, big dining rooms, a grill by the pool and some casual places — so passengers have to pay more for steakhouses, Italian or French restaurants, and sushi bars.
Royal Caribbean’s free options include easy choices like the Dog House for different kinds of hot dogs, El Loco Fresh for burritos and quesadillas, Sorrento’s Pizza for quick slices, and Park Cafe for sandwiches like a deli — but options change a little by ship.
Extra-cost dining on Royal Caribbean has most of the options — Chops Grille and Samba Grill for steak, Izumi for sushi, Teppanyaki and Sichuan Red for Asian, Giovanni’s Table and Jamie’s Italian for Mediterranean dishes, and Hooked Seafood for fish and seafood.
Wonderland mixes new flavors and special presentations, and 150 Central Park is good for a special night; the last two are only on Oasis- and Quantum-class ships. Themed 1950s diner Johnny Rockets (on more than 12 ships) is a cheap, kid-friendly favorite.
Like Royal Caribbean, Celebrity has a formal main dining room on Solstice- and Millennium-class ships. But on Edge-series ships, four smaller themed restaurants take the place of the one big dining hall.
Each one has some special menu items — new American in Cosmopolitan, Mediterranean in Cyprus, French in Normandie and Italian in Tuscany — along with choices from the Celebrity Signature menu.
Each place’s different look and special menus give a variety for free — but only for dinner. Also, guests who book suites in The Retreat can eat at Luminae, while those in AquaClass have access to healthy Blu, without paying.
More free dining across the fleet includes the buffet-style Oceanview Cafe, the Mast Grille, a casual place by the pool serving burgers and wraps, and Spa Cafe, offering healthier, lighter options for breakfast and lunch.
Celebrity’s extra-cost dining also changes by ship class. On Edge-series ships, guests can enjoy Fine Cut Steakhouse for good cuts and seafood, Eden Restaurant for new global food, Le Grand Bistro for classic French, Rooftop Garden Grill for backyard favorites, Raw on 5 for sushi and Japanese dishes, and Magic Carpet for small food and drinks.
Celebrity’s most fancy dining experience is Le Voyage by Daniel Boulud, the famous French chef’s first restaurant at sea, on Celebrity Beyond and Ascent.
Solstice- and Millennium-class ships have Tuscan Grille for steak and Italian dishes, Le Petit Chef for classic French with fun tabletop shows and Sushi on Five for Japanese. Solstice-class ships have another restaurant, Murano, for fancy French tasting menus.
Two ships, Reflection and Silhouette, also have two outdoor places: Lawn Club Grill and The Porch Seafood Restaurant.
If you want culinary variety without paying more, Royal Caribbean’s many free casual dining places, especially on its newest and biggest ships, give it an advantage for families.
Celebrity’s Edge-series ships’ four free restaurants offer a nightly change of place and menus, good for couples and groups of adult friends.
If you don’t mind paying more for a few dinners, Celebrity’s list of specialty restaurants is also a step above Royal Caribbean’s in terms of quality and look.